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Baldwin on the record, reluctantly

In a book he 'didn't want to write,' the actor talks about his divorce, custody fight.

September 25, 2008|William Georgiades | Special to The Times

Will his daughter read the book? "Maybe only the bad parts," he said with a laugh. "You know, anything that will turn her against me. I really have no idea how my daughter is raised. But there is an authority, and that authority's job is to protect the child. And none of this is now done in the best interest of the child. What you have to do now [is] to get a judge to force a mother to go into therapy to get her to stop alienating a child against her other parent -- they just don't want to do that. Men's behavior is examined to a fare-thee-well in the California system, and women just skate."

There are three places in the book where he writes about breaking down, the last time being after the infamous phone message he left for his daughter last year.

"Like I have said many times," he said, "if what you did on your worst day was recorded by someone privately. . . . " he trailed off for a moment.

"Listen," he said, standing up and putting his hands on the armrests of his chair, pushing his weight into the canvas. "The other side is angrier than I will ever be, that's for sure. And when what you do on your worst day is broadcast by these people. . . . Someone should have gone to a judge and said, 'I would prefer that he not leave messages like that.' It could have been done. The world now is so fueled by mockery, and you just get really sad when it's your turn to be taken for a spin."

But it is clear from his current levity on set that he has bounced back.

"To an extent. But I am changed. I'm very changed from the experience. It does change you!" he said, just as a stranger walked up and asked for his autograph.

Had Baldwin ever heard, "Is it better to be happy or to be right?"

"Yes," he said, with a look of mild deflation. "I've heard that over and over. The first phrase I make in the book is, 'I never wanted to write this book.' But I do feel like, who is going to help other people? To see that nutty, vicious ex-spouse work you over that way in court -- it is agonizing for everybody, there is a lot -- a lot -- of collateral damage."

Baldwin shrugged and took his arms off the chair. "If you asked me the truth, I wouldn't even be sitting here talking to you," he said warmly enough. "I wouldn't do any press for the book. I have no interest in doing this. When my obligatory press turn for the book is over, you'll never hear me talk about this again. Ever."

Then he said: "We good?"

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